Monday, 1 August 2011

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée - Episode 5

We all know that Japan is practically the home of politeness and a welcoming, even apologetic attitude towards others - so what happens when you throw that kind of approach into a 19th century French shop?

It's exactly this question which is posed by episode five of Ikoku Meiro no Croisée, and not surprisingly the answer is that it doesn't go down too well - Yune's friendly, borderline pushy approach to customers only serves to chase them away, while Claude is more concerned about Yune's own safety as she goes about treating everybody like a close, trustworthy friend.  This leads to perhaps the biggest culture clash of the series so far - Claude's perhaps overly cynical attitude tries to persuade Yune to see everyone as a potential danger especially if they act overly friendly, while Yune is simply unable to grasp or understand this suspicious mindset as it goes against everything she's learned up to this point.

Of course, actions always speak louder than words, and Yune's attempt to talk to a young, scruffily dressed boy outside the shop soon proves at least some of Claude's suspicions right as said young ruffian proceeds to steal a candlestick holder from the shop.  Yune gives chase (and boy can this girl run considering she's in traditional Japanese garb) but can't catch the culprit, and suddenly finds herself out in the Galerie where everything and everyone looks more untrustworthy than ever given her recent experience.  All's well that ends well (aside from the missing goods) as Claude eventually catches up with Yune and gives her some more useful advice on how to deal with the people of Paris on a case by case basis, so it's another case of lesson learned come the end of the episode.

To be honest, by this juncture I think I'm just going to love Ikoku Meiro no Croisée no matter what it dishes up - its scenario and characters are so simply yet both charming and engaging throughout, so I really couldn't ask more of it.  As a European I should probably take issue with the portrayal of the individuals within this episode as all self-absorbed and uncaring... but I've been around long enough to know that it's all true, giving a sense of feasibility to Yune's struggle as it outlines yet another slice of the cultural clash between her new home and her homeland.  It's all far more engaging and fascinating than it perhaps should be, and I can't help but adore it all throughout its considered, gentle treatment.

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